Cultural Submissions (Caroline Reid)

I’m calling in to see someone in a world grownups know nothing about sitting snug on their living-room couches. The thing about that is this: I think it doesn’t matter, Mary thinks I’m lost in the wrong kitchen. Or to put it another way, I’m hungry all through to the bedroom, you know how windy it gets in Perth, it really hollows you out.
I listen all the way to Melbourne, a new thing for me, in the front seat with Mary’s half-brother. Mary likes me and the radio, eats sausage meat in the mirror after peeling back the flaky pastry but that’s become irrelevant. I bark about a blank page, four weeks of drinking in Fitzroy, swerving…

So there is no rent to pay for a squat with ocean-liners painted on the walls over-looking a car park. The now-defunct tram conductor swaps places with the driver, neither saying where they are racing us to or how far there is to go, or what is needed to make sense of Henna Wash shampoo promising a lasting colour, Superman with a fist down his pants (his blue and red style really leaping out), drive-through coffee, a handful of teenagers breaking the law in summer itself, The Lord is Merciful headlines.

Me and Mary find a corner stool, hear Chris Wilson blow the big picture, stare at copper water-pipes, overwatch blue sky, drink at the wheel.  I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with any of this. Mary answers like an anthropologist who sounds like a mirage, ‘Like any primitive culture we have our ceremonies: staring out of windows, eating pies with tomato sauce, drawing a pint of bitter from the wrong side of the bar. The messages, the stories, like mouth-organs or kangaroos, you just submit as often as you wish.’


Caroline Reid is a poet and performer who lives in Adelaide, Australia on the traditional lands of the Kaurna people. An active performer in Australian’s spoken word scene, she has twice been an Australian Poetry Slam finalist at the Sydney Opera House, both times qualifying for the final round of top 5 poets. Caroline was commissioned to write her first full-length play for Black Swan Theatre Company in 1997. Since then her plays have been broadcast, performed in international festivals, and published (Prayer to an Iron God, Currency Press 2010). Her poems and stories appear in numerous literary journals including Cordite, Verity La, Spineless Wonders and Review of Australian Fiction and her work has been shortlisted for awards including the International Bath Flash Fiction Award, Julie Lewis Literary Award, Spineless Wonders Australian Icons and the 2019 Monologue Adventure.